After writing up Spector’s review, I thought I was good to go on having to write about “controversial” MOTU figures for awhile. Well, silly me, I forgot about June’s Snake Man-At-Arms. Though he was slammed as soon as he debuted, Snake Man-At-Arms is actually a huge win for collectors.
Any time that the collectorbase sees something it doesn’t like, it roars up (and makes a face not to unlike Snake Man-At-Arms here) and says so. How vocal or how many collectors speak out is up for debate, but the answer is almost always the same. No changes can be made.
We’ve had some success with altered final touches here and there, Moss Man’s ears, an accessory or deco change, but more often than not we’re told that “by the time you see it, it’s far too late”. Snake Man-At-Arms, love him or still hate him, smashed that typical cycle. Collector response pretty much sent Snake Man-At-Arms back to the drawing board. Maybe it was special circumstances – after SDCC, Powercon, and NYCC, Mattel was just so far ahead on the reveals that a rare opportunity presented itself, but in the end the Four Horsemen & Mattel decided to have another crack at him and the figure got a pretty extensive overhaul from his NYCC debut. Whether it was enough to make him a worthwhile figure will be up to each of us to decide. For me, it did, but not necessarily for the right reasons.
First, you should know that Man-At-Arms is my all-time favorite MOTU character. I really love a lot of the lesser-knowns, but I think each of us tend to have a favorite character from the main cast. Guest stars and recurring supporting cast can add flavor, but if we like something we usually identify with someone that’s there all the time. Dr. McCoy, Winston Zeddemore, Obi-Wan, etc. For my MOTU, Man-At-Arms is the hands down best character in Masters of the Universe. Just maybe not when he’s a snake.
Normally, I’d be excited about alternate versions of Man-At-Arms. A young captain of the guard or the (impossible) movie version. That said, I don’t have a ton of excitement for Snake MAA. He’s kinda not MAA, y’know? I’d much rather have a redeco in his silver, MO2K snake-bustin’ armor – which brings me to the first problem that spawned the “collector revolt” in the first place.
A good toy line needs cheap repaints. Sometimes because certain characters can be done as cheap repaints, sometimes because we want multiple versions with slight changes, sometimes just because some minor change can make for a fun figure. I’m going to buy that GITD Robocop from NECA. I’ve bought and enjoyed several DCUC Batmen – heck, when I temporarily trimmed the shelf down to less than 50 DCUC figures, three Batmen still made the cut over unique characters. Cheap repaints are not a bad thing.
But they are for MOTU. It’s partially the price, but I think it’s the subscription model too. With the all-in subscription, we’re all buying everything and that means a minimum level of value has to be maintained. When Snake MAA debuted back at NYCC late last year, you would’ve been hard pressed to find anyone who felt his value was on par with that of the other releases thus far. (And it’s not so much what $20 will get you, but what $20 will get you compared to other figures in the line).
When Mattel presented Snake MAA to us, he featured a new head sculpt, a slight redeco, one old accessory, and one new accessory. Now, I’m a little biased – I think part of the disdain was also likely caused by his being an MO2K variant and from a fairly unpopular MO2K story line at that. Personally, I don’t mind that he died (or how) in the bios. It’s a continuity that spans millenniak people are going to die. I’m actually more annoyed that so many characters are thousands of years old!). But, whatever the reason, Snake MAA didn’t have a perceived value on par with other figures in the line, even heavy re-use figures like Battleground Evil-Lyn. That negative response is what ultimately saved this figure. Continue to Page 2